INDIANAPOLIS – Brandin Cooks walked onto the Texans’ practice field one final time Friday morning, joining his teammates before pausing along his path to shake hands and hug general manager Nick Caserio days before the last game of the season Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
It was a friendly exchange between two men whose strong relationship and mutual respect goes back to their shared tenure with the New England Patriots. Lengthier conversations between Cooks, his agent and Caserio are expected to take place this offseason. A standing trade request from Cooks after the veteran wide receiver was nearly dealt at the NFL deadline, then missed one game against the Philadelphia Eagles for personal reasons stemming from his disappointment and frustration after not being traded, is expected to be worked on and, in all likelihood, accommodated this offseason.
“I think my agent and Nick and I, we have a good working relationship and, after this game, we’ll be able to discuss what the future looks like,” Cooks said inside the Texans’ locker room Friday morning. “This situation, obviously has got to be a win-win for both sides. I think Nick understands that. We understand that. I think he’s trying to grow something here. As a guy going into Year 10 of my career, I want to be a part of a vision where everyone is on the same page and has a stable vision.
“That’s my hope as a player. As a player, I’ve worked too hard and seen too many different situations here. I know they’re trying to get it right and get it going. I know Nick has a big job in front of him. I think we’ll discuss it after the season. Both sides will have a good understanding.”
Ultimately, no deal could be worked out for Cooks to be traded. It was an extremely complicated situation due to financial reasons with Cooks’ $18 million guaranteed base salary in 2023 along with the Texans’ high asking price in terms of draft capital. The Texans, ideally, wanted a second-round draft pick and other compensation in exchange for Cooks, per league sources, and teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, wanted them to pay a large portion of his salary to make the trade work.
Cooks drew trade inquiries and interest from several teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Cowboys, according to league sources. Cooks could have a fairly healthy trade market despite his contract and a dip in production this season.
Acquired by the Texans from the Rams in a 2020 trade for a second-round draft pick, Cooks would tie Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson for the most trades involving an individual player in NFL history if he’s traded for a fourth time. The former New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick form Oregon State was previously traded to the Patriots and then the Rams before joining the Texans.
If the 2-13-1 Texans, who have gone 10-38-1 during Cooks’ three seasons with the AFC South franchise, were built to compete and not facing so much uncertainty-deficiencies at key positions, Cooks acknowledged he would feel differently about the situation and how he fits into that dynamic.
“No doubt, that’s the kind of thing that would excite me,” Cooks said. “If the organization was stable in its approach and a stable operation, not just from a football standpoint, but from the every-day process. I do understand Nick is trying to build that. For me, it’s going to be important to already have that set. Not just for me, but for my family and feeling good about the situation.”
Cooks leads the Texans with 52 receptions for 593 yards and two touchdowns on 87 targets in one of the least productive seasons of his career. Signed to a two-year, $39.6 million contract extension last year, Cooks caught a career-high 90 passes in 2021 on 134 targets for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns. In his first season with the Texans while playing with three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns last offseason, Cooks caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns.
Cooks, who has 625 career receptions for 8,510 yards and 48 touchdowns, is one of the fastest receivers in the NFL with a 4.33 time in the 40-yard dash. A former track standout growing up in Stockton, Calif., and in college, Cooks, said he knows he gave the Texans what he had. It’s unfortunate that didn’t translate into a longer tenure or more victories.
“In every way, I gave everything I had for three years,” Cooks said. “Regardless of the situation and a lot of things that was going on, I always worked my tail off and tried to be the best player and the best leader I can be. It’s unfortunate for the fans we couldn’t get it done. At the end of the day, I respect them for coming out to support us.”
Now, Cooks is looking forward to lining up with his teammates one more time at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“One last go ‘round, let the chips fall where they may,” Cooks said. “You know the locker room will never be the same again. The locker room never stays the same. People come, people go. Regardless, you just keep that in your memory bank and play with your brothers one last time.”
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com